Recognizing the Top 5 teams in any college football season can be challenging when you have different conferences, divisions of play, and no real playoff system to match the “best of the best” against one another.  Now imagine trying to compare the best teams a program had during a particular time period, or those programs overall success during that period.

Never one to shy away from any controversy (see: our selection of FAMU as Division-I Black College National Champions), we looked back at the past decade and wanted to recognize the top programs in the D1/FCS and Under-D1 (D2 and NAIA) for their accomplishments.  While determining the D1/FCS Team of the Decade seemed pretty clear to decide, the Under-D1 level was a little cloudier.

Over the decade (2010-2019), we focused on seven D-II/NAIA teams that won conference championships –

  • six of them were recognized as Black College National Champions
  • five of them won more than 70 games
  • five of them had unbeaten regular seasons heading into what would be their last game in the playoffs
  • two of them had a winning season (above .500) every year of the decade (Note: three other had just one season below .500).

So, how hard did it just become to name a Top 5? Pretty, pretty hard.  Here are the teams and their resume (listed in alphabetical order)

The Resumes

Albany State Golden Rams (member of SIAC)
Record:
69-36 (.657)
Coaches: Mike White (38-16 from 2010-14, 112-51 since 2000); Gabe Giardina (20-12, 2017-Present); Dan Land (11-8, 2015-16)
Notable seasons: 2010 (11-1) – Black College National Champions; SIAC Champions – 2010 and 2013 (6-4); SIAC East Division Champions – 2011 (8-4), 2013, 2014 (7-3), 2015 (6-4), 2018 (7-4), 2019 (7-4);  NCAA Playoffs – 2010 (Quarterfinals) and 2011 (First Round).
Additional Note: All seasons had a record greater than .500. Unbeaten regular season- 2010.

Bowie State Bulldogs (member of CIAA)
Record: 71-38 (.651)
Coaches: Damon Wilson (head coach since 2009)
Notable seasons: 2018 (10-3) and 2019 (11-1) – Black College National Champions; CIAA Champions – 2017 (9-2), 2018 and 2019; CIAA North Division Champion: 2015 (9-3), 2016 (7-4), 2017, 2018, 2019;  NCAA Playoffs – 2015 (First Round), 2017 (First Round), 2018 (Regional Semifinals), 2019 (First Round)
Additional Note: Unbeaten regular season- 2019.

Langston Lions (NAIA institution)
Record: 71-31 (.696)
Coaches: Quinton Morgan (34-7, 2016-Present), Dwone Sanders (19-12, 2013-15), Mickey Joseph (13-7, 2011-12), Greg Johnson (6-4, 2010; 81-57 overall 13 seasons)
Notable seasons: 2017 (10-1) – Black College National Champions; Central State Football League Champions – 2011 (7-3*), 2013 (6-4*), 2014 (7-4), 2017; Sooner Athletic Conference Champions – 2018 (9-2) & 2019 (8-2); NAIA Playoffs – 2014, 2017, 2018
Additional Note:  Unbeaten regular season – 2017

Miles Golden Bears (member of SIAC)
Record: 62-45 (.579)
Coaches: Reginald Ruffin (59-39, 2011-Present), Billy Joe (2-4, 2010), Patrick Peasant (1-4, 2010)
Notable seasons: 2011 (7-5), 2012 (8-2), 2015 (7-5), 2018 (5-6), 2019 (9-2); SIAC Champions – 2011, 2015, 2018, 2019; NCAA Playoffs – 2012 and 2019

Tuskegee Golden Tigers (member of SIAC)
Record: 78-34 (.696)
Coaches: Willie Slater (head coach since 2006)
Notable seasons: 2015 (10-3) and 2016 (9-3) – Black College National Champions; SIAC Champions – 2012 (10-2), 2014 (9-3), 2017 (9-2); NCAA Playoffs – 2013 (8-3, First Round), 2014 (Regional Semifinals), 2015 (Regional Finals), 2016 (Regional Semifinals)

Virginia State Trojans (member of CIAA)
Record: 73-31 (.702)
Coaches:  Reggie Barlow (31-10, 2016-Present), Latrell Scott (19-3, 2013-14), Andrew Faison (17-13, 2010-12), Byron Thweatt (6-4, 2015)
Notable seasons:  2014 (10-3) and 2017 (10-1) – Black College National Champions, CIAA Champions and NCAA Playoffs (2nd round in 2014)
Additional Note: Unbeaten regular season- 2017

Winston-Salem State Rams (member of CIAA)
Record:  84-30 (.737)
Coaches: Connell Maynor (45-6), Klenus Boulware (35-18), Robert Massey (4-6)
Notable seasons:  2011 (13-1), 2012 (14-1), 2013 (10-2), 2016 (9-3) – Black College National Champions; CIAA Champions – 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016; NCAA Playoffs –
Additional Note: Unbeaten regular season- 2011 and 2012.

The Top 5

No. 5   Bowie State Bulldogs

No. 4   Langston University Lions

No. 3   Virginia State Trojans

No.2   Tuskegee University Golden Tigers

No.1   Winston-Salem State Rams

Over the decade, Winston-Salem State had the most wins among ALL black college football teams, regardless of classification, (84) and the fewest losses (30) as well.  The Rams’ 2012 season that ended with their only loss in the national championship game could be argued, along with North Carolina A&T’s unbeaten season of 2017, as the greatest seasons/teams in black college football last decade.  It all depends on how much you value the Rams NCAA Playoff Tournament run against the Aggies win over a FBS school and season despite the inability to play in the NCAA FCS Playoffs due to the Celebration Bowl.

These teams were truly magnificent within their conference and have been the rabbit that others are chasing.  Winston-Salem State will be known as the team of the past decade, but it’s very likely one of the other six programs will be the team of the next decade.